Donald Trump and Peter Pan
“Do you believe?” he cried….“If you believe,” he shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.” (Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, Chapter 13)
Anyone who’s read or seen “Peter Pan” knows that Tinkerbelle, the fairy, drinks poison to save Peter’s life and starts dying. To save her life, Peter calls for all those who believe in fairies to clap their hands. Enough children do, and Tinkerbelle is saved, because of the children’s belief.
This scenario reminds me of the current presidential campaign of Republican businessman Donald Trump. Trump has built up a certain persona; if enough people believe in the image he’s created, his campaign remains alive; however, if people stopped believing, his campaign would crumble, since there’s no substance behind his claims. There’d be nothing left but smoke.
Trump himself alluded to this lack of substance in “The Art of the Deal,” 1987: “The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.” That’s how Trump works. He plays to people’s fantasies; reality is irrelevant.
One of Trump’s fantasies is that America isn’t great anymore. He’s never clarified when he thinks it was great. Was it during slavery, or the westward expansion that wiped out millions of Native Americans? Was it during Jim Crow days, or maybe the 1950s, when women knew their place in the home? When exactly was America greater than she is now? And how would Trump restore this past “greatness”? America is pretty great already. Too bad Trump doesn’t believe it.
Trump brags about his successes, but that’s another illusion. If you don’t agree, try to take a flight on Trump Airlines, or buy a house through Trump Mortgage, or get an education at Trump University, or entertain friends with some juicy Trump Steaks and Trump Vodka, chilled by Trump Ice, while you play an exciting round of Trump: The Game. It’ll be tough, since these Trump business ventures, plus several more, all failed. Of course businesses fail, but for a man who says we will “get sick of winning” if he’s president, that’s a pretty dismal track record.
Trump’s budget and tax plans are another fantasy. They would expand, not eliminate, the national debt. In 1990, Trump needed a business loan. To get it, he was put on an allowance (very generous) and had to allow a bank syndicate to manage his businesses. He lived like this from 1990-92. If Trump is so smart, why didn’t this syndicate trust him to administer his own affairs? It’s because he couldn’t handle his money. Now we should trust him with the nation’s money?
Trump is an expert at hoodwinking his followers. I saw a Mississippi fisherman say, “Trump is a self-made man. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He built his own business.” Trump was born into a wealthy family. He became president of his father’s company, Trump Management, in 1974; when his father died, Trump inherited tens of millions of dollars. Trump has been handed everything, and his followers believe he is self-made. That’s a great story teller!
Like Peter Pan, Trump’s never grown up. He has the maturity of a petulant five year old. “He started it!” His tantrums show a fragile ego in an unstable man, although he has delusions of being a petty tyrant. Michael Reagan wrote in his March 2 column: “…unless he magically makes the House and Senate disappear, Trump’s vague promises aren’t worth the hot air they were written on.”
The world is looking aghast at the U.S., the most powerful nation in the world, for even considering a buffoon like Trump as a candidate. For those who think he can’t be bought because he’s rich, he can be bought quite easily with a currency available to anyone – flattery. His ego responds to anyone who tells him how smart and handsome and powerful he is. “Now that I’ve fed your ego, Mr. Trump, may I have whatever I ask of you?” A true leader wouldn’t be manipulated like this, but with Trump, it would be sure-fire.
I would love to see the national media completely ignore Trump — not one word about him from press or broadcast outlets. Then we’d see how much he “hates” the media. If everyone stopped clapping for Trump, he would disappear. Shall we give it a try?
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.